Exalted Lettering in Veliky Novgorod

Dmitry Smolyov (Veliky Novgorod)

The 3rd International Exhibition of Calligraphy took place at Yaroslav’s Court downtown Veliky Novgorod.

After two exhibitions had taken place in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the calligraphic forum organizers chose Veliky Novgorod to be the next exhibition host. Birch bark manuscripts are considered to be not only unique monuments of the Cyrillic alphabet, but also samples of Russian calligraphy and that’s why an exposition at the local Kremlin timed to coincide with the International Exhibition of Calligraphy started with them.

A short retrospective journey to the handwriting culture of old was perceived as an epigraph to the main program. Ancient psalters and gospels, written in the Uncial Cyrillic Book Hand, samples of hook musical notation, letters patent of tsars Ivan IV and Mikhail I, business correspondence – all this used to be a part of everyday life and not art in times long gone. Today, the first thing that catches the eye is the aesthetic aspect, the diligence and patience of the scribes. One Explanatory Gospel started with the words, “Oh God Almighty, help your sinful servant Potapishek to write diligently and without blots nor slips.”

It is likely that modern calligraphers say a similar prayer to their deities. It is of vital importance “to write diligently and without blots nor slips” no matter if the challenge be Orthodox troparia, verses of the Holy Koran, lines of the Torah or of Buddhist mantras. Even if it is a non-religious calligraphic work, it is still clear that authors just can’t do without prayerful concentration.

Novgorod saw nearly four hundred pieces brought from the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy located in Sokolniki, Moscow. Moreover, many artists arrived and the event became not only visually but also audibly international. Master-classes continued throughout the Fixed Event Period: servants of the Muse of Penmanship introduced hieroglyphs and Arabic lettering to all the guests.

Rare and sometimes exotic exhibits like a World Famous Mezuzah in its case (the traditional Jewish protective charm, performed by Avraham Borshevsky, listed in the Guinness World Records for its huge size); the Sacred Mantra by the German master Sven Plumper (carved in yellow sandstone and covered with gold leaf inscription, “The power of all Buddhas, act through me”) were the Kulturträgers of the event. Calligraphy On A Wing Of A Fly by Chen Forng-shean of Taiwan could be distinguished only through a magnifying glass, whereas the Russian artist Yuri Koverdyayev used birch bark as a basis for his work.

Such wonders catch the eye, and further perception hinges solely on the viewer’s ability to penetrate into the essence of calligraphy. Top class is not only visual perfection but also emotion conveyed by the lettering. It’s hard to tune yourself to such vibrations in this world of vanity but still it’s worth a try.

Source: Izvestia web-site